Trays for fruit and vegetables form Ghelfi Ondulati’s core product, but the company can create corrugated cardboard packaging for any need in the food industry.
“We can develop all the packaging our customers require, and our digital printing contributes to growing their sales,” says General Director Fabio Esposito. Ghelfi Ondulati does not offer standard products but instead has models that are tailored to customers’ needs.
“Our packaging is extremely personalized,” Mr. Esposito explains. “We achieve that only by working very closely with our customers, as well as with our suppliers. Our motto is, ‘If the customer has a problem, Ghelfi will solve it!’”
The company has obtained numerous patents over the years that attest to its innovative abilities. Ghelfi Ondulati has improved the mechanical strength of cardboard trays and enhanced their functionality. The Geasy family of models – featuring Geasy1, Geasy2 and Geasy3 – offers a variety of shelf-ready packaging.
Ghelfi Ondulati’s NOCRUSH system provides high resistance at a low cost, while fresh produce enjoys better cooling and air circulation with Sila trays. The MILLA® system offers improved air circulation for palletized packages, allowing for energy savings of 30% when the boxes are refrigerated.
MILLA® is available in several sizes, and the system also consists of the machinery to shape the trays automatically. In addition, customers can purchase equipment for automatic filling, weighing, covering and pricing.
Ghelfi Ondulati goes beyond producing trays, however. The MAXI BIN is the size of a Euro pallet and folds down to take up minimal space when stored. “Due to its large size, there is plenty of room for printing, so customers can personalize the bin,” Mr. Esposito adds.
The company also offers the Epi-Pal pallet made of corrugated cardboard. “The cardboard is printable, and because the pallets are made from one material, they’re recyclable,” the General Director says. The pallets are delivered flat for easier transport and storage yet are highly resistant to vertical compression.
What makes Ghelfi Ondulati unique is the wood pulp used in its cardboard production. “All the wood stems from sustainable production,” the General Director reveals. The company was among the first in Italy to require FSC certification of its suppliers as a means of guaranteeing that its cardboard is produced using sustainable materials.
As an Italian company, Ghelfi Ondulati has a flair for aesthetics, and this was the impetus to begin offering printing services. “In the past, cardboard packaging was plain,” Mr. Esposito explains. “We realized early on that packaging can also be a marketing tool.”
Initially there was no technology to print the cardboard well. The company tested out flexographic printing in cooperation with its suppliers to become a forerunner in this segment. “We kept telling them, ‘We want to print better,’ until they finally achieved the quality we were looking for,” Mr. Esposito says.
Retailers and supermarkets gladly received the printed boxes, which could be used directly for display. In the meantime, flexo printing has given way to digital printing. “We’re cooperating with HP to install one machine for large-format printing,” the General Director says. “They’ll be operational in November. HP is the first company to offer digital printing on this scale.”
Ghelfi Ondulati was founded by Guiseppe Ghelfi in 1952 and has always focused on innovation. Today the company is in the hands of the second generation of the family with the third generation preparing to take the reins. “We’re guaranteeing a future for our company and therefore for our customers, as well,” the General Director says.
Exports make up nearly 20% of sales. With its headquarters so close to the French border, Ghelfi Ondulati views France as one of its most important foreign markets. Spain is gradually becoming a reference market for fruit, as well.
“We have several patents there for the development of highly robust and resistant boxes for export,” the General Director continues. Tunisia is another historic market for the company. Although Ghelfi Ondulati is not planning to expand geographically, it intends to widen its industrial reach.
Going greener is another goal on the company’s agenda. “We’re on a mission to identify all possible products that are currently made of other materials, such as plastic, to be made of cardboard instead,” Mr. Esposito says. “Cardboard is highly flexible and – more importantly – eco-friendly.”
The company already offers the ESA line of environmentally friendly packaging. Compared to trays of the same size and volume, ESA uses 10% less material. “With ESA, about 30,000 t of raw material can be saved annually,” Mr. Esposito highlights.
Because ESA trays are not treated with paraffin, they can be completely recycled after use, and the FSC and PEFCcertified cardboard trays’ reduced surface area allows for 15 to 25% more trays per loading unit for transport, yielding lower fuel consumption and thus decreased transport costs.
Italy is also seeing a growing trend towards organic products, and Ghelfi Ondulati believes that cardboard respects the organic philosophy. “Organic products should absolutely be packaged in cardboard boxes,” the General Director adds.